God will have his day.
Joy lay in the silent darkness of her hospital room contemplating what the guardian had said to the rotting, demoniac version of Fen Sloughheart. Mungu atakuwa na siku! Surprisingly she remembered the words. Foreign but powerful. Raw in brutal truth. An almost tribalistic recognition of the numinous that lay buried deep within the soul of every human being. There is God. In all the aweful terror of absolute mystery and unrestrained power, there is God. The holy in the pure, primordial meaning of the word. God.
Joy had felt very safe with the guardian, very secure, tranquil, even warm and loved. Now alone and fully awake in the middle of the night, she felt the dreadful weight of the reality of the Divine. God will have his day. The words made her shiver. She tried to pull the thin sheet and blanket more tightly around her, but to no avail. She thought about calling the night nurse for some more covering, but she really had no desire to talk to anyone. Not now. The very air in the room seemed to move and breathe with otherwordly life. God unmasked and terrifying.
It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God, came to mind, along with our God is a consuming fire … and wreaks vengeance upon the nations; till he destroys the scepter of the proud, and cuts off the staff of the wicked. Verses of ancient script she knew but upon which she had never long meditated. The living God. Consuming Fire. Vengeance. Destruction. Fen Sloughheart and the other wretched, howling demoniacs. It never even entered the mind of Joy Brighterday in that mystifying, fearsome moment to question why God seemed so selective in pouring out his wrath on some and not upon others; to question why God seemed to overlook the weak and innocent, while winking at and passing over evildoers. God will have his day.
An ancient Roman proverb came to mind. Called or not called, God approaches. God comes at God’s own will, in God’s own time, for God’s own purposes, in God’s own way. Tremendous. Overpowering. Overwhelming. Paralyzing. The unseen life-force that permeates the whole of the cosmos … how little we really know … or understand, Joy thought with another shiver running down her spine. This is the God of whom the Hebrew people said to Moses, ‘You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, or we shall die.’ Now I begin to understand… Mungu atakuwa na siku! And it frightens me! Oh my guardian, where are you now?
Joy had always conceived of God as Love, as Life, Light, Peace, and Truth; but the guardian’s command, spoken with such authority, seemed to illumine a chilling, sobering side of God she had not much considered. God untamed and wild. An ancient saying of Islam came to mind that teaches, Verily, there exist seventy thousand veils of light and darkness before God. If He were to lift them, the light of the Majesty of His countenance would consume all of creation within sight. This somehow struck very deeply and poignantly the truth-chord playing in her soul.
And had she been so arrogant in believing she actually knew the Everlasting One, the Holy One, the Creator God and Governor of the Cosmos? Perhaps. In the beginning was God; today is God; tomorrow will be God. Who can make an image of God? He has no body. He is as a word which comes out of your mouth. That word! It is no more; it is past, and still it lives! So is God. So teaches an African hymn of one of the traditional religions in Zaire. God is alive, and God is ever present, but God is as illusive as the breath-word that leaves your mouth.
So much came to mind now. Revere the anger of Heaven, and presume not to make sport or be idle. Revere the changing moods of Heaven, and presume not to drive about at your pleasure. Great Heaven is intelligent, and is with you in all your goings. Great Heaven is clear-seeing, and is with you in your wanderings and indulgences. So taught Confucius … but Joy had never honestly grappled with “revering the anger of Heaven,” much less “the changing moods of Heaven.”
Then Joy remembered reading in the grand story of Judith, There is no way that you can understand what is in the depths of a human heart or find out what a person is thinking. Yet you dare to read God’s mind and interpret his thoughts! How can you claim to understand God, the Creator? No, my friends, you must stop arousing the anger of the Lord our God! To understand, comprehend, to grasp the living God… Was it possible? The guardian would know. He was also keeper and captain, which she didn’t fully understand, but she intuitively knew that meant something quite significant. Yes, he would know; she had a deep sense that he knew God.
Oh, how she longed to have the guardian by her side now. Joy had more or less reconciled herself to celibacy upon entering full-time pastoral ministry. It was a voluntary choice on her part to sacrifice the possibility of marriage and children, but one she very thoughtfully made to this God on behalf of the vocation to which she believed she had been called by the Divine. Now, however, she very much desired the companionship, the soul-companionship, of the guardian. If he could just be with her now, to hold her, and comfort her.
If she was practically frozen in primal fear and struck speechless, Joy Brighterday did at least have an understanding of what the guardian had spoken to Fen Sloughheart: Stop! The devil take you! God will have his day! Perhaps the words meant much more, but they were directed at the fiendish maleficent who had wrecked so many lives in so many ways. It was apparent, then, the guardian had guaranteed divine retribution upon Fen Sloughheart. Joy could not begin to imagine what that would look like, given the condition of the putrefying, demoniac Sloughheart of her dream-vision. Something worse was almost unimaginable to her. But God will have his day with Fen Sloughheart… She couldn’t feel the least sympathy for the man.
And the key to the new and glorious Splinterbit? She had the key, but Joy also had no idea, no comprehension of this key. What exactly was this key? The guardian had told her she already had it, but where precisely was the key? Within her heart? Her mind or soul? Did using the key have something to do with everything she was trying to do now? It had to at least impinge upon her present plans and actions. But another fact she knew for certain, and that was that Fen Sloughheart had no place in the new and glorious Splinterbit … but the devil would take him anyway, right? That is, at least, what the guardian had commanded, and it was a command. He had spoken quite imperatively and with an authority she’d never before encountered.
The people were so amazed they asked each other, ‘What is happening here? … He even gives commands to evil spirits, and they obey him.’ The verse from the Gospel of St. Mark rolled into her head. Is this the guardian … my guardian? She wondered. Ah, but what would that say about God? Her eyes felt heavy. Joy yawned with her mouth closed; she felt like it was more appropriate to keep her mouth closed … or, really, she was scared to open her mouth. Silence seemed to be the high call of the moment. Silence shrouded in darkness. Thankfully some sense of peace returned and calmed her mind and spirit. Sleep crept in as friend to an exhausted soul and body, gently persuading. She closed her eyes completely, breathing deeply now.
God will have his day.